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Bias on FOX News

September 30, 2009


FOX media commentator Bernie Goldberg’s weekly appearance on the O’Reilly Factor turned into a shouting match about whether certain unnamed talking heads on FOX News were spinning their biased views as facts.   This was in response to O’Reilly’s question as to why FOX is under constant attack by the “mainstream” media.

After conceding that FOX’s conservative views and its ratings success were contributing factors to the angst in liberal media elite circles, Goldberg then lent legitimacy to the anti-FOX assaults by going after the bias of the unnamed commentators (whom everyone knows must have been Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck).  He said that these commentators had a habit of distorting the facts to make their point.

Goldberg’s usual target for media bias are NBC, CBS and ABC , along with The New York Times.  But usually he does so in a monotone, matter-of-fact manner.  This was one of the few times that I have seen Bernie really lose his cool.  When the subject switched to Dan Rather (whose lawsuit against CBS had just been thrown out of court), he returned to his usual calm demeanor.  But the cat was out of the bag.  So let’s take a look at his charge against FOX.

As O’Reilly pointed out, neither Beck nor Hannity hold themselves out as journalists.  They more or less wear their biases on their sleeves.  Beck is the “common man” populist who goes after both parties when he thinks they are abusing the little guy.  Hannity has said many times that he is a proud Reagan conservative.

On the biggest controversy that Beck has taken on recently — Van Jones — Beck turned out to be entirely correct.   Much of the basis for his attacks on Jones as a self-avowed Communist, race-baiter and 9/11 conspiracy wingnut came from Jones’ own words.

Hannity never lets a show go by without hammering President Obama.  From the days of the Presidential campaign, Hannity pointed out the potential dangers of Obama’s radical associations with such people as Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright.  Given the ugly realities of Van Jones and a number of other radical Obama administration czars such as Cass Sunstein, Hannity’s warning was spot on.

However, I have noticed Hannity’s tendency to greatly exaggerate a fact, or to take quotes out of context to support his positions.  And since Alan Colmes left the show, the only liberal voice that we occasionally hear to counter Hannity is Bob Beckel, whose claim to fame was that he managed Walter Mondale’s disastrous 1984 campaign for the presidency.

I also think that Hannity has taken on an arrogant, contemptous tone that was entirely missing in his early days on his ABC radio show.  He is fond of calling Obama “the Annointed One,” but at times it seems that Hannity sees himself as the Annointed American Patriot sent here to rescue the country from the barbarians.

So Bernie Goldberg had a legitimate point and I congratulate FOX and Bill O’Reilly for having the guts to air the criticism of their own station.  When was the last time you saw such self-criticism on the liberal talk shows?

  1. Mark Casey permalink
    September 30, 2009 6:48 am

    This is what makes Fox different.They have the guts to let dissenting opinion on air,unlike the echo chamber on MSNBC.

    this is a great web site, thank you for all the info you and front page have to offer

    • September 30, 2009 7:30 am

      Thank you, Mark. You’re welcome. Please come back and visit us soon.

  2. David Forsmark permalink
    September 30, 2009 7:19 am

    Great great great great great job, Joe. Now YOU can take the heat for gentle constructive criticism of Sean. You’re a great American!

    • jbtrevor permalink
      September 30, 2009 8:17 am

      do you think Hannity will listen?

      • VNVet permalink
        September 30, 2009 10:31 pm

        Let’s hope not.

  3. Swemson permalink
    September 30, 2009 9:18 am

    Great piece Joe…

  4. Carole permalink
    September 30, 2009 11:51 am

    I have quit watching Hannity for the very reasons that was mentioned in the article. I don’t want a “conservative” version of what we heard for the last eight years against Bush. The left clouded even legitimate criticism of Bush with their hatred of him and I think Hannity is in danger of doing the same thing. Beck, however, seems to really do his homework and comes across as really being concerned for our country. I just wish that the pettiness would go away on both sides so the problems, the real ones, could actually be dealt with in a constructive way. O! Well!!

    • Retired Soldier permalink
      October 1, 2009 7:57 am

      Well so what. It makes it 117 left wing black propagandists to one conservative who’s a little over the top. Stop eating your own.
      Bernie is still a left wing liberal at heart.

  5. Dave permalink
    September 30, 2009 1:35 pm

    I agree. I also think that Fox made a mistake changing the format of Hannity’s show. Since the departure of Colmes, the show has become anything but “fair and balanced”

    • VNVet permalink
      September 30, 2009 10:34 pm

      But it’s balanced against the alphabet networks.

  6. shane comeback permalink
    October 1, 2009 3:09 am

    Hannity may engage in hyperbole from time to time but compare him to what goes on daily with Ed Schultz,Olbermann,lil’Chrissy,etc.(they’re fair and balanced,right?) He is positively buttoned down in comparison. He is what he is, he and Beck never claimed to be journalists. As for Beck, I’m very glad he’s doing the muck-raking the MSM can’t be bothered to do.
    And Colmes was a wispy little Dem apologist.
    I agree though, that Fox airs criticism of it’s own,unlike MSNBC,CNN,etc.
    Hope Hannity has Goldberg on his show,that would be interesting.

  7. Keithstir permalink
    October 1, 2009 3:23 am

    Great topic.
    I don’t watch much of Hannity or listen to Limbaugh very often. Though I like their conservatism, they both give me the impression the Republican party does nothing wrong.

    Bernie Goldberg loosened his tie after the O’Reilly’s show conversation.

    • MaryAnn permalink
      October 1, 2009 8:30 am

      Listen more closely to Limbaugh. His ridicule of republicans can be relentless. He does, however, hold to the notion of a resurgent conservative republican party as he is adamantly opposed to any third party. Hannity’s show was a lot better with Colms, although I do not enjoy Alan’s commentary.

    • Delores permalink
      October 1, 2009 9:00 am

      Keithstir, which is it – you “don’t listen to Hannity or Limbaugh very often”, or “they both give you the impression the Republican party does nothing wrong”? It can’t be both.How can you have an opinion of their beliefs if you don’t listen to them very often? Rush Limbaugh criticizes Republicans OFTEN. He critized Bush a LOT, especially during his second term in office, and rightly so. He complains about their mistakes, the same as he complains about the liberal socialists’ mistakes. That’s another big difference between conservatives and liberal socialists – conservatives admit their mistakes and move on – even apologize when the immature, self-serving democraps DEMAND they apologize…even though there’s usually nothing for which TO apologize, as was the case with Congressman Wilson. On the other hand, the liberal socialists throw their weight around constantly, make HUGE mistakes constantly, admit none of them…and the conservatives don’t demand that THEY apologize. That would be futile, anyway, since the liberal socialist dems’ motto is apparently “lie and deny”. SAME OLD DOUBLE STANDARDS IN THE DISTRICT OF CORRUPTION! Yes, Limbaugh compliments Republicans when they make the right choices. After all, conservatives are honest, patriotic, pro-God, pro-America, pro-individualism, anti-big government Americans. On the other hand, liberal socialists just spout the lies, deceit, and anti-God, anti-America propaganda that’s “poured” into their heads on a daily basis, if not more often. Furthermore, they don’t seem to know how to speak the English language without using expletives and profanity. Try watching Glenn Beck every day between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. ET. Now THAT’S where the FACTUAL INFORMATION is to be discovered – and in plain English, without expletives & profanity! He’s using videos of those who need to be exposed, in THEIR OWN WORDS, which condemn them and their actions. Beck just presents facts, interviews guests who do the same, asks questions we all should be asking, and then allows his TV audience to draw our own conclusions. The connections he’s made between this administration and KNOWN criminals, and the criminal organizations they run, are ASTOUNDING. He’s repeatedly asked the administration to answer those questions; but so far, they aren’t responding. That speaks VOLUMES about them and their actions.

    • VNVet permalink
      October 1, 2009 12:40 pm

      “Though I like their conservatism, they both give me the impression the Republican party does nothing wrong.”

      If you believe this, you don’t listen to them at all.

      • winoceros permalink
        October 2, 2009 9:33 am

        I’m not even sure Hannity is a registered Republican, if I remember correctly.

    • H Lee Poteet permalink
      October 4, 2009 1:07 pm

      Both Limbaugh and Hannity have criticized the Republican Party constantly over the last nine years for their failures. So great was their criticism and so constant that i believe that it was a factor in many conservatives not voting for McCain as he would have been even less conservative and more compromising that either H.W. or W.

      Since Obama got no more votes that John Kerry the reason he won was those conservatives be they Republicans or Independents who voted for Bush but who could not bring themselves to vote for McCain. Both constantly warned the Republicans that their failure to curb spending and bring the nation back to the Constitution was what caused them to lose Congress in ’06.

  8. Jack Hampton permalink
    October 1, 2009 4:20 am

    Yep very good article and I think it does show some fairness on the part of FOX to allow the comments. But again Hannity makes no claim to be a newsman but an advocate for his ideals.

  9. jac mills permalink
    October 1, 2009 4:22 am

    Let’s face facts, here. Bernie, or someone, simply felt it was time to critique Fox to retain his journalist’s creds, whatever they are these days. Plain and simple, Bernie always has taken a step back in his “discussions” with OReilly, somehow finding ways to agree and soothe The Loud One. Bernie gets paid by Fox, and nicely, I would think. So we should not get carried away with the insertion of dissent into a program(The Factor) that is becoming less and less worth watching. I am a Fox fan because most of the other American TV news programs are junk, a disgrace to journalism in this country.

  10. bls1985 permalink
    October 1, 2009 4:56 am

    The way I see it, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are the ones that are worth watching and listening to. Beck has done so much research it is hard to argue with his conclusions. While Rush seems not to do any original research, his analysis into the research that has been done is insightful and often times right on the mark. Hannity and O’Reilly-well, Hannity has never impressed me with his intelligence. He is just sort of a pretty mouthpiece and I am not too sure how he got to where he is. I do not like his new format, but I never could stand Alan Colmes who was really a dimwit. As for O’Reilly-he is a smug, arrogant jerk who likes to act like he gives both sides a fair shake.

    • Delores permalink
      October 1, 2009 9:19 am

      bls1985, RIGHT ON! You present a concise, TRUE, description of all of those “personalities”. Well, personally, I like Hannity; but he’s not as knowledgeable or thorough as Glenn and Rush – especially Glenn. It’s absolutely AMAZING the amount of knowledge Glenn has, the amount of research he and his staff do, the DOCUMENTATION, the great illustrations he uses to make his points crystal clear. I KNEW the day he put the frog in the hot water, that it wasn’t a REAL frog…and that he made it look so, because he KNEW there would be howling objections and accusations pouring in from the liberal socialist environmental WACKOS!(I’m not referring to LEGITIMATE, sensible environmentalists. We all know it’s important to take care of all God has given us). And Glenn was RIGHT AGAIN! He and the MILLIONS of us who watch him every day “got a big kick” out of that! Just goes to prove the new-age socialist dems are WATCHING his show. Just goes to prove how PREDICATABLE they are, especially when it comes to jumping to conclusions…the WRONG conclusions! Glenn’s program is presented very seriously & interestingly; but along with that, he seems to be having SO MUCH FUN, and for us it’s very entertaining, as well as informative. His program is the highlight of any true American’s day! We also watch the re-runs, and ask our friends and neighbors to do the same.

      • VNVet permalink
        October 1, 2009 12:49 pm

        Sensible, or creditable, invironmentalists are, and have been for many years, called CONSERVATIONISTS.

  11. October 1, 2009 5:04 am

    As a 9-12 D.C. participant – age 78, retired teacher, NEVER politically involved, I disagree with Bernie’s position about the TEA PARTY people. We ARE a mix of Americans joined by our love for our great country, its Constitution, and abhorrence of big government. I felt Bernie put us down.

    • Delores permalink
      October 1, 2009 9:49 am

      And you’re RIGHT, Mary Moise. He DID “put us down”. A lot of liberal socialists “put us down”. That just proves we’re RIGHT, though! I think the excitement, sincerity, peacefulness, and sheer magnanimity of our well-organized activities around the nation, especially in W’ton, DC, on Sep. 12, proved beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we “tea partiers” and ALL pro-America, pro-God, pro-FREEDOM citizens are doing the right thing! WE will not allow our beloved country to be destroyed by those who hate us, and all we stand for. I also think it was a huge SHOCK and DISAPPOINTMENT to the “politically correct” liberal socialists and their lamestream (fringe) media, that millions of us could protest peacefully, happily, and without ANY irresponsible behavior, much less arrests, such as occurs regularly around the nation – by angry “left-wing extremist” MOBS. Have you seen the two photos that were taken of the mall in Washington – one after the Sep. 12, tea party, with nothing but GREEN GRASS, totally clean – and the one taken of the aftermath of Inauguration Day events, with LOTS of trash and garbage just PILED UP all over the place?! Those two photos reflect the enormous difference between us TRUE Americans, and those who are not! No one who sees the DIFFERENCE between those two photos can SUCCESSFULLY “put US down”. United we true Americans stand, now and forever.

    • Jack Hampton permalink
      October 1, 2009 10:31 am

      Mary Moise
      I have to agree with your opinion in that regard. But it was still kind of nervey to challenge there base viewers you will not see that on NBC.

      • VNVet permalink
        October 1, 2009 12:53 pm

        What’s more important than “nervey”, is accuracy.

        • Jack Hampton permalink
          October 2, 2009 4:59 am

          Of course truth is more important I do not believe I indicated other wise. We are talking about two different view points here I do not believe that Goldberg was intentionaly lying. I believe that Bill O’Rielly has mistated the number of protesters on the mall in DC a couple of weeks ago and placed that number at about 75K It was a hell of a lot more than that I do not believe that Bill is lying about that but is relying on the word of a DC Fire Chief who I can just about assure you is a Obama supporter. But that does not make Bill untruthful just badly informed and poor research. With out doubt truth is most important but we are not talking about Chuck Schumer or Harry Reid or Dan Rather who are acknoledged liars here. I believe it is an honest difference of opinion on this subject. I could be wrong however, I was wrong last year about something but have forgot what it was

  12. October 1, 2009 2:10 pm

    Where is Fox News on the Honduras situation? It is a frightening indictment of Obama and the MSM that they call the situation a “coup” and want Zelaya reinstalled, seeing how he is a buddy of Chavez, Castro and Ortega and was legally removed from office for making an unconstitutional power grab. Have not heard anything about it on FOX or Rush!

    • Jack Hampton permalink
      October 2, 2009 5:01 am

      I have to agree and I am disapointed but I honestly believe the Massiah is hoping for the same here.

  13. October 1, 2009 10:18 pm

    You know what I think is funny, maybe even a little pathetic. Here we are on a major website on the internet, the greatest leap forward in the dissemination of human information ever, discussing the irrelevant and dead on arrival MGMSM dinosaur.
    This is really incredulous!

  14. jhimmi permalink
    October 2, 2009 4:55 am

    I can’t watch Hannity for any length of time, it’s a combination of his voice (nasally, 40’s announcer guy), those silly panels he has with completely uninformed guests, and a perceived lack of thoughtfulness.

    Glenn Beck is really good at is at least giving the impression that he’s trying to find answers, rather than already having all of them. Hannity seems to think he has, as Mr. Swindle (I think) calls it, the Truth.

    • October 2, 2009 8:59 am

      You would be correct in this analysis Jhimmi. Glenn Beck would be a postmodern conservative and Sean Hannity would be more of a “True Believer conservative.” These distinctions are only marginally important, though. (One should not get too hung up on them or let them divide us.) Hannity and Beck are still allies fighting the same war just in different fashions.

      A point from the end of Horowitz’s response to David Frum in today’s FrontPage that relates to this point:

      “Coulter may be wrong about McCarthy, and she and I will disagree on this without it altering one iota of our affection for each other, just as Glenn Beck and I will probably disagree about Cass Sunstein. But unlike you I see Glenn and Ann as two champions of our cause, and regard it as a troubling blindness on your part that you can’t appreciate this.”

      • jhimmi permalink
        October 2, 2009 10:24 am

        Point taken. Off the topic of Hannity, though, it does seem like a line in the sand must be drawn at some point. If you follow the ‘enemy of my enemy’ attitude to its logical conclusion, don’t you end up joining forces with the right wing equivalent of Van Jones (not sure if that would be a racist Nazi eugenicist or a paramilitary theocrat)?

        I do like the suggestion of engaging ‘adversarial allies’ in a persuasive discussion rather than publicly excoriating them. One tact is likely to advance your cause, the other is likely to undermine it.

        • October 2, 2009 11:45 am

          I’ve blogged about this very subject:

          You’re quite right. We can’t tolerate everything and everyone.

      • jbtrevor permalink
        October 2, 2009 7:40 pm

        David, thanks for the link to the Horowitz-Frum piece in frontpage I read it and if I could have commented on it when it was first posted I would have said:

        “Zing, good one David”

        Horowitz that is…

  15. Michael permalink
    October 3, 2009 9:30 am

    “However, I have noticed Hannity’s tendency to greatly exaggerate a fact, or to take quotes out of context to support his positions. ”

    Greatly exaggerate a fact = LYING. You can dance all around it though as you just did.

    “So Bernie Goldberg had a legitimate point and I congratulate FOX and Bill O’Reilly for having the guts to air the criticism of their own station. When was the last time you saw such self-criticism on the liberal talk shows?”

    Wow, did you want a cookie? Let’s of course not forget, Heidi Noonan – Fox News Producer who was caught revving up the crowd during the 9/12 Tea Party. Fox News obviously doesn’t know the difference between covering the news and promoting it. The better question is whether Fox will actually heed Goldberg’s advice or be just as bad as the liberal stations. I think we all know the answer to that.

  16. Jack Hampton permalink
    October 4, 2009 4:38 am

    What is your source for the producer reving up the crowd comment? Producing for who? For you to make that comment about FOX is absurd Goldburg was not leveling that comment at the FOX news readers. Again Hannity and O’Reilly are opinion shows not news and Hannity and Beck make that distinction over and over. I am sure you believe that Katie Curad is even handed however. By the way Goldberg is really paid to make O’Rielly look good but is still more honest than any of the fringe media like ABC ,NBC or CNN no use listing them all. Bret Baier is far more main stream and honest reporter than anone the others can dig up.

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